The Whetstone High School baseball team is looking to defend its City League championship this spring.
The Braves finished 19-8 overall and 14-0 in the City League-North Division last season. They lost to Hilliard Bradley 9-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament before closing the season with a 17-7, six-inning win over Briggs in the City championship game.
"Our goals are to win the City-North and the league championship, get a good seed in the district tournament and advance to a district semifinal," said 20th-year coach Tim Broskie, who is 342-155 during his tenure at Whetstone and has guided the Braves to 10 City-North titles and seven City championships.
Whetstone, which opens Monday, April 1, against Cecilia (Ky.) Central Hardin in the Derby Classic in Louisville, Ky., enters the season with a relatively unproven pitching staff.
"We will have a hard time replacing six seniors from last year," Broskie said. "Five of the six pitched, so we are a little thin in the pitching department. Last year's team had run-rules against City League teams in every game except one."
Seniors Kyle Oldaker (4-0, 3.45 ERA in 23 innings) and Jonathon Griebel (1-0, 2.20 ERA in 12 innings) and juniors John Jannazo (1-0, 1.45 ERA in 11 innings) and Chase Hutchings (1-0, 4.42 ERA in 10 innings) had no losses on the mound last season but did not pitch as many innings as the players who graduated.
All four also should play key roles when not on the mound. Oldaker will play shortstop, third base or left field when not pitching. Griebel and Jannazo will play shortstop and third base, respectively, and Hutchings will play in the outfield.
Griebel batted .481 with 38 runs, 38 RBI and 26 stolen bases last season and was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district, as was senior first baseman Steven Foster (.585, 33 runs, 37 RBI). Senior catcher Cameron Thompson (.411, 26 runs, 24 RBI) also was first-team all-league.
Oldaker (.451, 22 runs, 22 RBI, 4 triples) was second-team all-league last year and senior second baseman Eben George (.437, 17 runs, 13 RBI) was honorable mention all-league.
Others vying for starting positions include seniors Robert Everetts (OF), Mike Lipster (OF/C) and Ozzie McMahon (1B/P/OF) and junior Ty Phillips-Bond (CF).
Rounding out the roster are seniors Kevin Ellison (P/1B/3B) and Daylon Smothers (OF) and junior Justin Stern (1B/P/OF).
"We definitely have a good nucleus back," Broskie said. "Thompson, Foster, Griebel and Oldaker are all very good players who could play for anyone."
Softball team eyes another City title
The softball team also is aiming for another City championship.
Whetstone lost just two starters from last season, when it finished 20-7 overall, went 14-0 in the City-North and captured its fourth City title in six seasons by defeating Briggs 3-2 in the championship game.
The Braves, who lost to Lancaster 6-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament, return six players who earned league honors, including senior pitcher Briana Clemens. The left-hander went 16-7 with a 1.81 ERA and was first-team all-league.
"We've got several quality pitchers with experience, we've got versatility and we should be stronger in all phases of the game," said seventh-year coach Larry Peck, whose team opens Saturday, March 30, at home against Eastmoor Academy. "So our goals are to reduce our errors, have a winning record against non-league opponents, win the City-North and the City League championship and to advance to a district semifinal."
Senior shortstop Lauren Peck hit .471 with 29 runs, 26 RBI, six doubles, three triples and two home runs and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Also making first-team all-league were juniors Liz Jackson (1B/3B/SS), who hit .457 with 32 runs and 29 RBI, and Maddy O'Malley (OF/P), who hit .476 with 36 runs, 23 RBI, 14 stolen bases, five doubles, three triples and one home run and was 4-0 in the circle.
Junior Ali Adelsberger (2B) batted .427 with 17 runs and 23 RBI and had a .980 fielding percentage with only one error and was second-team all-league, and junior Val Vokac (3B/1B) hit .400 with 22 runs and four triples and was honorable mention all-league.
Others who could see time in the circle are senior Audrey Bollas (OF/designated player) and sophomore Madison Wilming (OF/SS).
Also vying for starting spots are juniors Mara Diaz at catcher and Katie Elekes in the outfield.
Rounding out the team are seniors Brenna Feltz (OF/2B) and Jasmyn Kennedy (OF) and sophomores Rita Knasel (1B/C), Chloe Lillash (SS/2B/C) and Katherine Wilson (3B/OF/C).
"We have a lot of girls who can play multiple positions, so we definitely have flexibility," coach Peck said. "We also seem to have strong team chemistry at this point."
Boys volleyball team has modest goals
With little experience and lacking much height, the boys volleyball team is setting modest goals this season.
"The goals this year are to have continuing improvement each day and to work hard and enjoy the game," 30th-year coach Errole Rembert said. "Our team strength is unity, but our depth is weak and we lack experience. However, we are improving each day at this point."
Whetstone, which opens Saturday, March 30, at Olentangy, returns five players from last season when it finished 5-18 overall in seniors Christian Cabreja (5-foot-8 setter/outside hitter), Caleb Christian (5-8, setter/outside hitter), Ty Hamilton (5-8, weak-side hitter) and N.D. Maston (6-6, middle hitter) and junior Mitchell Tijerina (5-11, outside hitter).
Also on the team are seniors Shelby Howard (6-0, outside hitter), Martin Jesenko (6-0, outside hitter) and Akhmed Mongush (5-6, back row), sophomores Edwin Amagnoh (6-3, middle hitter), David Andriani (5-6, back row) and Chris Salyers (5-6, back row) and freshman Luke Woodward (5-10, outside hitter).
"It will take a team effort to be able to compete," Rembert said. "N.D. will have to hit well and be dominant in the middle. Christian and Caleb are first-year setters and are making progress and will have to continue to improve for us to compete."
Last season, Whetstone lost to Worthington Kilbourne 25-10, 25-18, 25-11 in the first round of the Division II East Region tournament and went 2-6 in the Central Ohio Volleyball League to place fourth, behind Watterson (8-0), DeSales (5-3) and St. Charles (5-3) and ahead of Licking Heights (0-8).
The Braves will not compete in a league this season as the COVL was disbanded.